Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Anchorage for a whirlwind visit Monday evening, speaking with high-ranking military officials about Alaska’s missile defense systems en route to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Pence had been scheduled to arrive at 5 p.m., but his arrival and deplaning were delayed Monday night. A news conference was abruptly relocated to a hangar on base, beginning shortly after 7 p.m.

 
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"At a time of increased provocations and threats from the rogue regime in North Korea, the work done with missile defense here at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is more important than ever," Pence said. "Missile defense begins here in Alaska, and the American people and the world should know that our nation is secure; our defense against potential missile attacks is the best in the world."

Pence emphasized the Trump administration's commitment to missile defense, saying the administration supported an additional 20 missile interceptors and $5 billion in funding.

This week's trip, Pence said, was also meant to express "solidarity" with regional powers like South Korea and Japan in the face of North Korea's recent missile and nuclear tests.

"We're traveling to Korea to make sure that North Korea doesn't use the powerful symbolism and backdrop of the Winter Olympics to paper over the threat its regime poses," Pence said.

Pence is scheduled to speak with Alaskan Command head Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach and Alaska National Guard adjutant Maj. Gen. Laurie Hummel, as well as Missile Defense Agency director Samuel Greaves and NORAD commander Gen. Lori Robinson.

The vice president’s brief refueling stop in Anchorage comes as he leads the U.S. delegation to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang. This year’s events are scheduled to open Friday.

Emily Carlson and John Thain contributed information to this story.

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